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Matchbook CEO Andrew Pantling Speaks Up

Matchbook CEO Andrew Pantling Speaks Up

Do you notice that when you’re playing big live events, even though it’s not frequent, that players get uncomfortable playing against you on later streets?
Absolutely. My style is extremely uncomfortable and unorthodox for people to play against. I notice people getting frustrated and I think you can see that a few times at the final table. 

Was that the hand where he check-raised the turn with jack-four of diamonds on a queen-six-jack-six board?
Yes, and of course Daniel has a little pride and he’s the face of PokerStars so there’s a lot at stake. He can’t be seen making any big mistakes or foolish plays, but I think that his play during that hand didn’t make any sense. I didn’t play it as well as I possibly could either, but that hand was a bit unusual to say the least.

(Full hand courtesy of PokerNews.com: Eight handed action: Andrew Pantling raised to 88,000 at blinds 20k/40k a5k from the cutoff with ace-eight off suit and Daniel Negreanu called from the big blind with jack-four of diamonds. The flop brought out queen-six-jack and Negreanu check-called 100,000. On the turn the six of spades hit, putting out a flush draw. Negreanu checked, Pantling bet 290,000 and Negreanu check-raised to 620,000. Pantling folded. Pantling was now second in chips with 3.8 million after the hand, Negreanu was up to 2 million)

He later said that he would’ve called if you were to shove on him there on the turn, and that he had a read on you. What do you think of those kinds of comments?
I don’t believe that is true and that is the perfect example of how Daniel has to save face after making a questionable play. When he made that comment, a few guys at the table laughed at him which may have factored into why he came onto the live stream with a chip on his shoulder.

Even though you are no longer a poker professional, do you still invest time in working on your game?
Not particularly. I’m not involved in the poker community in that way anymore. However, many of our Matchbook customers are high stakes poker players, so I do spend a lot of time around excellent poker players and I don’t get too far behind the curve. To be fair, Daniel said something about me being a new school; old school player and I think that’s a fair comment. I don’t play online every day, nor do I play every big live tournament. The game has changed, but I don’t feel it has changed to a degree where I don’t have an edge. I’m quite confident in that.

Let’s go back in time; do you remember when and how you decided to take up poker as a profession?
I was at university at the time studying finance and I took an internship at a bank. This was around the time of the poker boom. I was a foreign exchange specialist, that was my job title, and I was doing quite well at that. I didn’t particularly enjoy it because of the long hours, but I felt like it was going to lead to a trading career and that was something I had always been interested in. What happened was; the internship wasn’t very well paid, as you would expect, and at the time, poker was booming and PartyPoker was in its prime. I was making ten times my wage just playing evenings and weekends so from a strictly financial perspective, it was an easy decision for me to not extend my internship into a career. When I graduated from university, instead of going back or finding a similar job, I decided to give it a few years and focus my time playing poker, predominately online. I played online for two or three years competitively and semi-professionally. After that I started my business.

You never considered yourself a full-time professional?
I guess I was a professional, but I never considered myself one. I always wanted to do something else as I have an entrepreneurial spirit. I did do quite well and it provided me a solid financial foundation when I was getting started.

“Quite well,” might be one of the biggest understatements as just your PokerTableRatings show an amazing graph. Was your edge in the Cap games that big, and was it as easy as it looks?
I think it was. It was quite a big edge because people hadn’t figured the game out yet. Like with anything where you are an early adopter, you are ahead of the curve for a period of time but, eventually, others catch up. You have to continuously innovate and experiment and for me that innovation led to a life outside of poker.

As for PokerTableRatings I don’t like that site because it killed my action and cost me a lot of equity. In fact, it got so bad that in 2009-2010 I would sit for hours, sometimes days, and not be able to get a game. In retrospect, this helped motivate me to do something outside of poker so in the end, even though I couldn’t see it at the time, it was a blessing in disguise.

ptrAndrew 'ClockWyze' Pantling's PokerTableRatings graph for FullTiltPoker tracked until January 2011. (Screenshot courtesy of PokerTableRatings.com)

Do you think that all software regarding information about the game like SharkScope, OPR, PTR, PokerTracker and HoldemManager are all bad for the game?
Absolutely. None of that stuff should be allowed. You should be able to track your own hands and results, but any sort of HUD or tracking website like PokerTableRatings should not be a part of online poker.

Are you saying online poker should be anonymous in a sense that only the player self would be able to know how much he either won or lost?
Exactly.

Isn’t it the case that everyone except for the biggest winners and biggest losers benefits from using that software?
I don’t think anyone particularly benefits from it. I don’t see any benefit except for the predatory bum hunters who game-select like crazy. They are heavily attritions to the customer base of whatever poker site they play on. They shouldn’t be aiding these players at all.

Have you ever tried to get yourself removed from those websites?
No, I’ve never really been bothered. I stopped playing online seriously somewhere in 2009 or 2010 and at that time you couldn’t remove yourself. I think that since then, PokerStars has tried to do some things about it. Now you can maybe even self-exclude, but back then you had no choice. So at the time, I was really annoyed, since it was public and it was killing my action. I worked really hard to build a game that was deceptive, but like I said; it was a blessing in disguise. It’s funny how things change, and time smooths things over.

Interview by Remko Rinkema
Remko Rinkema - Igaming.org Interviewer

Remko Rinkema has covered the biggest poker tournaments in the world since 2008, including many WSOP, EPT, Aussie Millions, APPT, MCOP and Unibet Open events. As an in-depth interview and story enthusiast he tries to do things a little differently. Besides the usual writings Rinkema grabs every chance to appear on podcasts, live streams and in the occasional video.

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